So you’ve found yourself home alone, and you’re at a bit of a loose end…
Sometimes, if you’ve had an incredibly busy week and not a spare second to think, solitude and a few empty hours can be utter bliss. Other times it can feel quite the opposite.
If you’re not in the right mood to sit around and just luxuriate in doing nothing, being home alone can easily give you cabin fever.
Whether your partner or housemates have gone out for the evening and left you to your own devices, or you have a few spare hours at the weekend, here are some ideas to fill those idle hands.
Scroll through the list below – handily divided up into sections – and find an activity that suits your mood. Then get busy doing it. Or bookmark this page for a rainy day.
1. Spring clean
Home alone with a lot of energy? Deep cleaning will make you feel like you’ve achieved something and leave you more at ease in your own home.
I’m not talking about a standard clean like you’d do every week. Sure, you’ll probably need to do that too, but when you’ve got a few spare hours, try tackling the stuff that never gets done.
Clean the fridge. Dust the skirting boards. Soap down the walls and get rid of those grubby marks and fingerprints.
Sort out the things you’ve become blind to but that are subconsciously getting on your nerves.
You’ll be sure to feel far more comfortable in your home environment.
2. Clean the windows
Whether or not you see this one as a metaphor for life, it’s an incredibly satisfying job. One that you’ll reap the benefits of for weeks.
Pay someone to do the outside as, let’s be honest, no one has the time, patience, or necessary tools for that, but the inside of your windows is down to you… and it’s probably been a very long time since you cleaned them.
You’ll need plenty of elbow grease and time to do a good job.
3. Have a clear out
Overflowing cupboard? More shoes than you can shake a stick at? Bookshelf stuffed to bursting point?
Our modern society is far too concerned with stuff, and the rate at which we accumulate it can quickly leave us feeling like we’re drowning in it.
Pick one thing to sort through, like your kitchen cupboard or your underwear drawer. Get rid of anything you don’t need or is past its best, and then organize what’s left.
You know the thing that broke last year and you still haven’t fixed? Now’s the time!
If it’s something serious, you might want to consider leaving it to a professional, and using your free time to look up and contact one. But if it’s something you can do by yourself – perhaps with YouTube’s help – give it a go.
5. Do the laundry
You might think you’re bored, but I wouldn’t mind betting there’s a pile of unwashed clothes that could really do with your attention.
You’ll be thankful you dealt with them when you suddenly find yourself so busy there’s no time for hanging clothes out to dry.
1. Have a bath
Is there a bath in your house? Run those taps and dig out the bubble bath from the back of the cupboard. Go all out. Stick on some music, or your favorite podcast. Light candles and incense.
Grab a book, if you can trust yourself not to drop it. Hey, you could even treat yourself to some chocolate or wine… or both. Use this time to utterly pamper yourself and relax those tense muscles.
2. Body maintenance
Let’s face it, we all have times when we let our personal grooming slide a little, whatever our gender.
Life gets busy, and we have a million and one things to do. So, that one time you find yourself kicking your heels, have a maintenance session.
Shave, wax, pluck, exfoliate, moisturize… do whatever it is you want/need to do. It will empower you and boost your confidence.
3. Face mask
This isn’t just one for the women amongst you. Guys, if you’ve never tried a face mask before, now’s the time to start.
As well as working wonders for your skin, there’s something incredibly relaxing about the sensation of a face mask.
If you’ve not got a shop-bought one to hand, don’t panic! There’s still no need to leave the house. You can make all kinds of face masks from things you already have in your fridge and kitchen cupboards.
My personal favorite is mashed up avocado with a dash of lemon juice and olive oil.
4. Call a friend
Is there someone that doesn’t live nearby and you hardly ever see, but always puts a smile on your face? Call them, or FaceTime them. Spend a few hours catching up and putting the world to rights.
So if you have a few hours to spare, why not make up for all those days you’ve burnt the candle at both ends?
Work On Yourself
Time to yourself? Well, that means you’ve got no excuse not to try meditation at long last.
Meditation means actually taking the time to listen to your mind and body, quietening all the thoughts that rush around your head every second of every day.
It can be incredibly beneficial for anyone, but especially for those who are going through a tough time in life or feel like happiness is eluding them.
Try a guided meditation video, or one of the many apps that are out there.
2. Start a course
Is your brain in need of a workout? There are all kinds of free courses available online which will expand your horizons and open your mind to a whole new world of knowledge.
Use your free time to find a course that interests you and get started with it whilst you’re excited about it!
3. Learn a language
Okay, so this isn’t something you can do in just a few hours, but you can find a method that suits you and get started.
Commit to spending a certain amount of time learning a new language from scratch, or refreshing your memory of one you’re already familiar with.
4. Read a book
We all spend far too much time looking at screens these days, and not enough time looking at pages. Not that you can’t read a book on a screen, of course.
If it’s been a while since you’ve read a book, or you don’t normally read at all, try spending a few hours submerged in a story.
Sit in a comfy chair with a cup of tea in hand and get lost in another world. Whether it’s an old favorite or a brand-new adventure, nothing comes close to the feeling of being absorbed in a good book.
Whether you’ve never picked up a paintbrush in your life or were the star of your art classes at school, painting can be incredibly therapeutic, and is a wonderful way to amuse oneself for a few hours.
Dig out your old paints or steal your kids’ and let your imagination run wild.
Painting isn’t your only creative option! There are all kinds of things you can do with your hands to keep your mind occupied when you’re home alone.
Do a collage. Make a birthday card for a friend. Create a Zentangle. See what you can recycle!
Dig around the house in all those forgotten drawers and see what materials you can come up with. Then turn to the internet for inspiration and tutorials.
Pinterest is a gold mine when you want to get your creative juices flowing.
When was the last time you cooked purely for pleasure, not just out of necessity? It’s time to flex those under-utilized culinary muscles.
Look in your fridge and cupboards and then delve into your dusty cookbooks or turn to the interwebz to find an exciting new recipe that uses the ingredients you’ve got to hand.
If you’re more of a baker than a chef – no matter how dusty your apron is – it’s time to fire up the oven and find those long lost cake tins.
Whether you go for a basic recipe you know well or decide today’s the day to master something tricky, fill the house with some glorious smells and your stomach with some home-baked goodies.
5. Write a poem
Is there a poet hiding somewhere inside you? Well, you’ll never know if they’re in there until you try inviting them out.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and see what happens when you spend a few hours letting your creative side loose. These poems about life can serve as inspiration.
Okay, so you might not be tempted by the poetry idea, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on writing altogether.
Getting your thoughts out of your head and down onto paper can help you to put things in perspective and get your ducks in a row.
Dedicate a good chunk of time to just sitting and writing. Don’t worry about grammar or style, just write.
Write about the past, the present, and the future. Or don’t write about yourself at all; write a short story. Or write a letter to someone, whether you’ll send it or not.
1. Tax return
If you’re self-employed or have any extra income coming in, you’ve probably come to dread the annual tax deadline. But why leave the financial headache until the last minute?
Using a few spare hours to get your taxes in order will give you a huge sense of achievement and is something your future self will definitely thank you for.
2. Holiday planning
Okay, so if you feel like getting things organized but can’t face taxes right now, turn your attention to something a bit more fun.
Have you got a holiday coming up? If there’s any admin to be done, do it!
If that’s all sorted, why not spend a few hours researching all the wonderful spots you could visit so that you make the most of your time while you’re there.
If your holiday schedule is empty, do some research into potential getaways. Have a peek at your calendar and identify some potential dates, and then start dreaming about where you could go.
Whether it’s just a weekend in the countryside or you finally research the ‘big trip’ that’s been at the back of your mind forever, planning an adventure can make any quiet morning at home suddenly seem full of possibilities.
3. To-do list
Whilst we’re on the subject of organization, why not turn your attention to your to-do list.
Is there anything that’s been lingering at the bottom of your list, or hidden in a folder on whichever to-do app you use, that you never actually get around to doing?
Pick something that you can get done at home, or sort out from your computer, and do it! It’ll probably be far less difficult than you think.
When was the last time you updated your CV? Even if you’re not actively job-searching right now, it’s always important to have your CV on point.
After all, you never know what opportunities might suddenly crop up meaning you have to act fast.
1. Yoga class
It can be hard to find time to fit things like yoga into a busy daily routine, so when you’re home alone with time to spare, take advantage!
There are free and paid apps out there, but there are also thousands of classes available on YouTube.
Pick one that suits your ability level and turn your attention to your breathing and the sensations in your body. Improve your flexibility, strength, and peace of mind all at once.
Fancy a dance? Got a bit of nervous energy to burn off? It’s not as good as the real thing, but there are loads of Zumba classes on YouTube that are a brilliant way to spend anything up to an hour.
Work up a sweat, work out a few different muscles, and have a laugh whilst you’re at it!
If neither of the above appeal to you and you just want a classic guided workout, the place to go is, yet again, YouTube. Put on your favorite workout music and get ready to burn those calories.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.